The rise of cybercrime leaves no one out of the line of fire, and the youngest members of our society are especially vulnerable. Since the kids are spending plenty of time online, it’s important to help them look after their safety; to do so, they need to have the right tools and understanding.
Today, we will be covering different types of threats your kids may encounter online and suggest the best approach to addressing them:
Posting Sensitive Information
Ironically, the greatest threat can emerge from the kids being themselves and not knowing any better than publishing information of private nature in a public space. For instance, they may reveal your address or post an overly revealing family photo that has no place outside of the album.
The solution is to have a conversation with them about what counts as personally identifiable information and what is better left private. Explain that the suitability of the content they send out depends on the recipient and help them make the distinction between public and private places as they relate to the internet.
One of the scariest thoughts a parent may encounter is having their offspring victimized by a sexual predator. These are the types of individuals who prey on their innocence and lack a better judgment to elicit a sexual advance or coerce them to upload inappropriate photos of themselves.
The lesson here is that it’s not a good idea to trust strangers, no matter how friendly they may act. You should often make an effort to talk to your kids about how their day-to-day life will pick up on any potential threats such as these (jump in and escalate matters as deemed necessary).
If adults fall for phishing as often as they do, how can we expect our kids to fare any better in this regard? The answer is, we can’t. As such, little is preventing them from being victimized by clicking on a malicious link, attachment, or sharing sensitive information online.
Explain how not every link they find online can be trusted, not even the ones they receive from their friends (they might have been tricked into sharing them or malware posted them without their knowledge). Tell them to exercise their judgment and err on the side of caution when something seems off for whatever reason.
Much like phishing, minors can encounter various forms of malware online, whether by browsing for game hacks, visiting dubious-looking websites, or other means. This can be a huge problem if you’re using a shared family computer (in which case, a potential infection could compromise your files as well). In some cases, if you’ve noticed your computer is running slower than normal, this can be a huge sign, but in others, malware can slip under the radar.
Once again, the correct way to approach this is to talk to your children about clicking on links of unknown origin and minding what they download. On top of that, you should avoid granting administrator privileges to the account you’re using on your device and make sure it is protected with a strong combination of characters. After all, a secure password is much harder to crack.
Cyberstalking and Cyberbullying
In the times gone by, the schoolyard used to be the main playground for the bullies of this world. Now, as technology has matured, they have entered the digital space. As a result, your kid may be subjected to harassment online, whether it be from strangers or their peers.
The best way to approach this issue is by initiating an open dialogue with them. If the issue persists, consider installing tools designed for monitoring your kid’s online and mobile activities.
While certain adults will laugh upon seeing the infamous Nigerian prince scam for the millionth time and shrug it off, our youngest are much less experienced in this regard and may fall for it. As it goes without saying, any money sent to these scammers will never see the light of day again, so consider it lost. At the same time, scams can come in numerous forms (it could be something as trivial as free game hacks), and not even an adult can keep on top of them all.
This serves as a great training exercise that helps them sharpen and exercise their judgment. As an additional precaution, make sure all your credit cards are hidden or otherwise inaccessible to your kids.
Posting Content They May Regret
When someone is 13, that individual may think it’s cool or edgy to post certain things that are either vulgar, obscene, or otherwise inappropriate. The problem is, everything that’s posted on the internet is archived somewhere and it will never go away in its entirety, not even after deleting it. Things of this nature may come back to haunt your kid later in life when trying to land a new job or further their professional career in other ways.
Explain to them their views and opinions are very likely to change as they mature and grow older. Hence, they need to be careful not to stain their reputation by posting something they might regret later on.
The online space is somewhat of the wild west, and you’ll find everything ranging from completely innocent to the darkest and most tasteless things imaginable. Unless you plan on keeping your kids isolated from the rest of the world in a glass ball for the rest of their lives, you will need to take some time off your schedule and invest it into their education.
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